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Climate Action Projects

The Diocese of London’s Climate Action Projects form part of its strategic plan to address the challenge of energy use and carbon emissions from its buildings.

See Route 2050.

See also Energy and carbon, global warming and climate change.


Climate Action Projects aim to cut the energy use of churches across the Diocese by at least 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

Climate Action Projects to more than 200 churches in the Diocese have already been undertaken, or are in course of planning or procurement. They may include:

  • Any programme of works for environmental and energy-saving works initiated by a PCC;
  • Such improvements forming part of works for other purposes;
  • Implementation of low-cost actions advised by Environmental Audits;
  • Capital works including micro-generation projects, especially photovoltaic panels, supported by the outputs of Generic Building Solutions.


Projects for energy-saving, or for sustainability purposes, include those to provide for:

  • Building fabric
  • Lighting and electrics
  • Micro-generation
  • Heating and hot water
  • Renewable heat.

Aspects of all of these were studied by the Diocese’s Generic Building Solutions project.

Feasibility studies for pilot projects have now been completed. The first two of these projects, for St Mary Magdalene Paddington and St John-at-Hackney, have now progressed with their capital projects with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and other grant-making bodies.

See also:


Depending on circumstances, here is a likely pecking order for improvements:

Zero cost

  • Smart metering
  • Energy management and awareness raising

Low cost

  • Changing the lightbulbs to low energy models
  • Boiler replacements
  • Improved lighting and heating controls – radiator thermostats, timers etc

Medium cost

  • Draught proofing
  • Insulation.

High cost (capital investment)

  • Window replacement or glazing improvements
  • New lighting and heating systems
  • Renewable energy – especially photovoltaics (solar panels), heat pumps or biomass heating.


Some projects, such as replacing lighting or heating, may not be viable until an existing system has reached the end of its life.

Also it’s wise to consider whether the project is:

  • Short/Medium/Long term?
  • One-off/Life-cycle/Repeat?
  • Neutral/Poor/Acceptable/Superior user satisfaction?
  • Low/Medium/High carbon savings?
  • Poor/Viable/Good cost benefit?

Light bulbs

Replacing light bulbs is one of three basic steps advocated by the Diocese’s Shrinking the Footprint campaign.

Although low energy lamps cost more, their lifetime is longer, which also reduces costs to access and replace.

LED lights (Light Emitting Diodes) are the new standard.

See Lighting and energy use.

Renewable energy

This is also called ‘micro-generation’ or ‘Low and zero carbon technologies’. See Generating your own energy.

To fill the energy gap and tackle climate change, renewable technologies, such as solar panels and heat pumps, should be introduced as widely as possible.

Many churches are beginning to do this. At present there continue to be cases where non-renewable energy appliances are the best option, eg high efficiency boilers. These are designed for ease of maintenance – eg using modular systems – and may survive without total replacement for several decades.

Options for on-site renewable energy installation are outlined in the sections below.

Solar panels

Solar panels include photovoltaic (PV) systems to generate electricity, and solar thermal systems to generate heat, usually for hot water.

Solar PV is very suitable for many churches. Solar hot water is more beneficial for domestic properties.

See Solar panels.

Heat pumps

Ground source heat pumps are beneficial for new homes, and may be worth considering for smaller churches and many church halls.

Air source heat pumps may also be beneficial in some cases.

Heat pumps are nor strictly renewable energy, as they use some electricity, but they are relatively low on energy and carbon. A building needs to be well insulated for heat pumps to be efficient. Ground source heat pumps may be compromised if adjoining premises have similar systems.

St Paul’s Cathedral has a heat pump system serving its Chapter House.

See Heat pumps.

Biomass boilers

This is the technical term for boilers that burn wood or other plant material (usually pellets, sometimes chips or logs).

This technology is almost carbon-neutral; though technically challenging, it may be worth considering for some churches.

See Biomass heating.

Water conservation

Water should be used sparingly – while using enough to maintain good hygiene.

We do not know of any church that recycles water on site yet. However, several have been installing water butts in the churchyard.

‘Grey water’ systems are more appropriate for new housing. The new Parsonage of St John Wembley has a rainwater harvesting system.

See Conserving water.


Anyone planning retrofitting projects to the fabric of a historic building such as most churches should employ suitably accredited professionals for works to traditional buildings.

See also Sustainable Building.

Energy-saving Benchmarking

Make sure to have your church benchmarked before and after any project. This is important to verify savings and whether the project has achieved what it set out to.

Benchmarking can now include water and waste as well as energy and carbon.

See Energy-saving Benchmarking.


Project finance may be sought from grants, government Feed-in Tariffs or the Renewable Heat Incentive, bank loans or in some cases loans from the Diocese and other schemes.

The Diocese has introduced a scheme for flexible loans to churches installing energy saving measures or renewable energy systems.

Owners including churches may form cooperatives with each other, to share and potentially reduce costs.

Some parish trusts may also contribute.

See Climate Action Finance for more on these and other finance options, and also information about VAT.


Works to a church will normally require a faculty.

Alterations to affecting the outside appearance of a building may often require planning permission. Contact your local authority.


See Resources on the environment.

To discuss

To talk through any project, contact the Head of Environment and Sustainability, the Parish Property Support Team, or your Archdeacon.

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